WARNING: DISTRESSING VIDEO BELOW
Excessive Force Used in Unprovoked Attack by Officer
(LA) – Louisiana has a long history of police misconduct and things aren’t getting better. On September 20 another incident of excessive force and police misconduct occurred. The assault may be business as usual for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, but this time it was caught on video.
34-year old Shantel Arnold was walking home when she “was attacked by three boys.” Arnold is only 4′ 8″ tall and 100 pounds. She is also missing an eye due to a car accident. According to family members, it’s common for the tiny woman to be bullied. The three boys beat and threw her to the ground while other people watched and laughed. The boys were chased off by Arnold’s stepfather.
As Arnold continued on her way home, a deputy pulled up beside her and asked what happened. She said she had been beaten. The deputy told her to stop. Arnold said she just wanted to go home and kept on walking. The deputy exits the car and throws Arnold to the ground.
The video begins with a sheriff’s deputy seen holding the wrist of Arnold, who is lying on her back on the sidewalk. The deputy appears to be dragging her along the pavement. The deputy then grabs Arnold’s arm with his other hand and jerks her upward, lifting her body off the ground. They briefly disappear behind a parked white vehicle. When they come back into view, the deputy is holding Arnold by her braids, slamming her repeatedly onto the cement. At one point, he whips her down so violently her body spins around and flips over.
The assault was so brutal that the deputy ended up ripping several of her braids out of her scalp.
Social Media Forces Internal Affairs Investigation
The assault by the un-named deputy could easily have been swept under the rug. Fortunately, a bystander recorded the assault on Shantel Arnold and posted it. It went viral. That put the Sheriff’s Office in a difficult position. Now Sheriff Lopinto has to look like he’s doing something to address the excessive force.
The Black community has been claiming systemic racism by the Sheriff’s Office, for decades, yet nothing has been done to address it. In the Arnold case, Sheriff Joe Lopinto did initiate an internal affairs investigation, but when you have an agency rife with abuse, investigating itself, it’s doubtful you’ll get a legitimate determination of facts.
The ACLU of Louisiana is calling on the federal government to launch an investigation into the JPSO after a WWNO/WRKF and ProPublica report found that more than 70% of people who were shot at by its deputies were Black, despite Blacks being only 27% of the population.
That’s just one set of stats out of their report showing the systemic racism within the JPSO.
Officer Uses Intimidation Tactics
“When she arrived to check on her sister, Mercedes Arnold says the officer in question tried to convince her to have Shantel committed. ‘He was just trying to cover up what he did by saying my sister is crazy,’ she said.” The deputy knew his actions were inexcusable.
When his attempt to make it appear as him dealing with a crazy woman, didn’t work out, he tried another tactic. “Mercedes, claims that in the days and weeks following the attack, the same sheriff’s deputy has been driving past the family’s home in what she believes is an attempt to intimidate them.”
The officer’s identity continues to be protected by the Sheriff’s Office and so far, no charges have been filed against him.